Born: 170 BC
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: 90 BC
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Nationality: Ancient Greece
Executive summary: Authored first Greek grammar
Dionysius Thrax (so called because his father was a Thracian), the author of the first Greek grammar, flourished about 100 BC. He was a native of Alexandria, where he attended the lectures of Aristarchus, and afterwards taught rhetoric in Rhodes and Rome. His work, the Tekhne grammatike, which we possess though not in its original form, begins with the definition of grammar and its functions. Dealing next with accent, punctuation marks, sounds and syllables, it goes on to the different parts of speech (eight in number) and their inflections. No rules of syntax are given, and nothing is said about style. The authorship of Dionysius was doubted by many of the early middle age commentators and grammarians, and in modern times its origin has been attributed to the oecumenical college founded by Constantine the Great, which continued in existence until 730. But there seems no reason for doubt; the great grammarians of imperial times (Apollonius Dyscolus and Herodian) were acquainted with the work in its present form, although, as was natural considering its popularity, additions and alterations may have been made later. It was edited by J. A. Fabricius from a Hamburg manuscript and published in his Bibliotheca Graeca, VI. An Armenian translation, belonging to the 4th or 5th century, containing five additional chapters, was published with the Greek text and a French version, by Cirbied (1830). Dionysius also contributed much to the criticism and elucidation of Homer, and was the author of various other works -- amongst them an account of Rhodes, and a collection of literary studies, to which the considerable fragment in the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria probably belongs.
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